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The advantages (and disadvantages) of living in the UK

The best way to appreciate Britain is from outside of the UK. The place has many things to recommend life there, and also some down sides too. I'll tell you more about the good things about living in the UK first, and then point out what's bad about it too.

Advantages of Living in the UK

* Almost all your medical healthcare bills are paid for by the state. Yes, it's true. Even if you are poor and have never paid into any insurance fund, if you live in the UK then the national government pays for your health care, even if you need a very expensive life-saving operation. Let's not underestimate this, as most countries don't have this.

* It's a great place to start a business. (see how to set up and run your own business). The UK is very proud of being "a nation of shopkeepers" and private enterprise is actively encouraged. The excellent flagship unregulatedness of British private enterprise is so good that any individual can just declare themselves to be a company and instantly become a real company and can trade without hindrance in almost any line of business (although there are a few exceptions).

* The culture of the UK is diversity friendly in most places and there is a general sense of individuality being a good thing. Although this isn't 100% true everywhere in the UK, the cultural open-mindedness is good in most of the big cities, modern cosmopolitan areas and in remote wild areas (although it's not so good in a few of the small towns).

* Despite being worryingly close to the North Pole on a globe of the world, the British Isles enjoy temperatures which are not as severe as the latitude might suggest, although, having said that, the weather is still quite bad. See British Weather

* The government of the UK and its establishment is stable and it would be regarded as "unlikely" for it to be overthrown, for example by revolution or invasion. Although if you ask people, the majority are unhappy about the way the country is run, there's nothing much they can do about it. See People don't vote for politicians

* The country has a level of pride in itself and seldom feels a sense of insecurity such that it is going to invade other countries, (although there have been exceptions where international politics have got it embroiled in some unseemly conflict or other for almost no good reason).

* You CAN trust the police! With very few exceptions, the British police are honest, and they have to obey the law. This is in contrast to some countries where the police are feared by honest people. To put this in perspective, see what happened to me in Belize and what the Belize police did about it. Although the British police don't always succeed in the fight against crime, they are at least part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Even with the archaic legal system and absurd laws which various UK nanny state governments have imposed, the police have still managed to maintain reasonable order without becoming jobsworths.

* There are almost no destitute people. No person who's prepared to give up their dignity is allowed to be truly POOR in Britain. There is a welfare state which is such that people may live off it almost indefinitely. Lifelong Idleness is subsidised, and there are extra bonus payments of subsidy for producing more children. It's all paid for out of tax. The UK is a much softer option for many people than various other countries. This makes the country a very attractive prospect for immigrants. Immigrants are welcomed in the UK. Once in the UK, it is quite difficult to get deported. It's almost as if, once someone has set up home, made a decent attempt to learn the language, and got themselves a cat, they can apply for the rite of Habeas Felis. If this were true, (a famous politician once said "I'm not making this up") it would be good news for cats. My own situation is the other way around. I have become quite well-off because of my success running this website, and I am emigrating as a tax exile because of the absurdly high taxation which punishes success. Although I like cats and I have a cat valency which is quite high, just before my emigration I have no cats.

* The UK gives free school education to all children, (although not everyone gets on well with it. I hated it). However, free education is something which many countries aspire to, and I have even known people who have moved to the UK to get their children educated. (I disliked school so much that I will not have children while living in the UK!). University education and specialist education is well respected worldwide.

* The British currency is GB Pounds Sterling, which is one of the world's best currencies. The British pound is more stable than almost all other world currencies, including the US dollar. Plus, the currency is better made. Pounds are worth more than dollars or euros, but the general stability of the currency is largely because of long-term backing up of the value of the currency with real assets. In contrast, countries where the governments think they can solve their economic problems by printing more banknotes, end up with devaluation, inflation, and huge denomination notes required to buy basic essentials. (Unfortunately, with the Credit Crunch, the UK has started on the slippery slope towards losing the shine off its currency by printing more banknotes, and there IS inflation in the UK now, sadly).

* Britain is a very safe place to live. Almost all danger has been eliminated from life, and you are more likely to die of boredom, old age, or suicide out of sheer desperation than from any of the classic methods of death seen at the movies; murder, explosion, falling off something, high speed crash, or poisoning. Almost no-one is ever shot dead, as guns are banned in almost all circumstances. Folk sometimes consider themselves lucky to still be allowed to own a knife to cut their bread.

* If you come from North America you may be amused to hear that many of the folk in the UK speak with a variety of interesting accents which have a particular charm. In addition to the remarkable style of speaking, the British English vocabulary is especially of note. It's not unusual to see people use words such as "whilst", and occasionally even seemingly archaic words such as "thrice". This is part of a glorious tradition and is to be preserved as if 'twere endangered species of wild animals.

* Britain is still (2006) regarded as having the best television in the world. The BBC, and parallel running independent broadcasters of a similar level of quality.

* The quality of tarmac on British roads is better than in most countries. If you think there are too many potholes on badly repaired roads in the UK, it's worth knowing that in many countries the tarmac road surface is generally much worse, and in some places they regard having any tarmac at all as a luxury and the default is just "dirt".

* The mapping is some of the best in the world. Military grade mapping by Ordnance Survey is available to all, for a sensible price. Maps, originally a defence measure, became a good business venture.

* Although the country has got an official state religion, which is pushed unfairly in various ways, you are not actually compelled to believe it. You're allowed to believe any old stuff, cult or religion, you want. You can be atheist, or Pagan, or have any of the usual religions, or devise a belief-system entirely of your own. Diversity of belief is something Britain is justifiedly proud of. Most people are agnostics, except at weddings and funerals.

* In the UK, an individual has the right to have their own name defined by themselves. It's an obvious human right that you can call yourself what you want. This doesn't have to be a conventional first-name last-name format, and you have a right to have a single name. You can achieve this by the right of Statutory Declaration (rather than Deed Poll).

* Up until the early zero-zeros decade the UK had the best policed radio airwaves in the world. The British Radiocommunication Agency was a radio frequency spectrum management organisation which ran the radio waves on principles of Reasonableness and the long-view. (sadly this all went to pot after the coining of Ofcom).

* Domain names with ".uk" on the end are among the most popular in the world, as the domain name authority Nominet www.nominet.org.uk has a reasonable policy versus the evils of cybersquatting, while having domains available at a sensibly priced level. To get a .uk domain, a good place to look is 123 Reg

* Britain is the home of the global yardstick of longitude, the Greenwich Meridian, and the "Universal Time" that goes with it. See GMT. (Shame it doesn't stick to it).

Disadvantages of Living in the UK

* The weather is terrible. Almost all of the time, in one way or another, the British Weather is awful. If you have lived in the UK all of your life, you can't really appreciate just how bad the weather is in the UK until you visit somewhere that's got decent tropical weather. You don't have to take my word for it; you can book an international holiday via the travel category and see for yourself.

* There are far too many rules. The overbearing burden of bureaucracy and absurd laws makes the country almost impossible to live in. Speed cameras, seatbelts, rules about secrecy, European manufacture laws, nanny state interventionism, over zealous sticking to trivial legalistic minutii, and the recent (2006) nonsense about identity cards, combined with the ever present Big Brother spy cameras in the streets, make the place look like something dreamt up by a nightmare sci-fi writer a long time ago. See Big Brother Watch. You can't even truly "own" your own property, as government enforced rules prohibit you from building what you want on your own land without going cap in hand to ask permission from the local officialdom. It really is not a free country. Prohibitionist rules about what drugs you're allowed (not allowed) to take for your own personal enlightenment were worsened in the mid zero-zeros decade with a government attempt to outlaw smoking of tobacco. Even dinners in village halls were restricted if there was drinking of wine. Undercover police were stationed to spy on the behaviour in pubs, as it was illegal to get drunk even in a pub. These nanny-state extremist authoritarian laws may lead to the Smoke Room style of speakeasy rebellion. The Magna Carta was abolished, and the old right of Habeas Corpus was abolished by an authoritarian government in the zero-zeros decade, replacing it with Detention Without Charge for up to 28 days, 42 days, or some other arbitrary period, during which a person could be labelled "a terrorist suspect" and then in effect psychologically tortured. The extradition system stank, (see Extradition.org.uk - gone - hushed-up?! . Also see Friends Extradited , Fair Trials International , Extradition Watch , Another Day Another Extradition Injustice , etc) and any British person could be extradited to the USA for no good reason at all. This, along with other anti-terrorist nonsense, makes the place start to resemble the totalitarian regime seen in "V for Vendetta". The tyrannical rule in the UK is not something exclusively of the modern era. There is a deep undercurrent of historical resentment in the UK, a feeling of "us and them" in which people know that they are, in effect, disenfranchised folk like peasants living under law which is imposed by overbearing government. The country has never recovered from the Norman Conquest in 1066 when 10,000 invading Normans ruled over 2,000,000 Anglo-Saxons.

* The tax is far too high (40%* at the top end), which means in effect that if you make a lot of money you'll end up with quite a lot of it going to fund the UK government and allowing it to spend your money on what IT thinks is best. If you don't agree with the UK government about what's best (which most people don't) then you may find yourself funding things you may regard as unethical. Also, in addition to the high taxation of income tax, there are a number of other taxes of various levels on numerous things. There is a purchase tax (VAT) on goods, tax on employment (on people's wages, before they even get paid), tax on supposedly sinful items such as booze, cigarettes, and fuel, and if you die, the tax authority takes a further 40% of most of your estate even on money which you've already paid tax on. Also see fuel poverty and tax poverty. * There is an update on the already ludicrously high tax rate in the UK. The desperate government that had already mismanaged the economy so badly that national bankruptcy loomed after the credit crunch, suicidally increased the tax to 50%, which means in effect that almost all rich people who can afford to leave, will leave, like rats leaving a sinking ship. It's sad to see the old country sink, but let's not sink with it. Squeak... Splosh!.

Some of the tax money is spent on public services, and some on various wars which the UK is waging for one reason or another or for no particular reason at all, and some of the money is squandered at around the end of the tax year on road adjustments!

* The Domicile problem. The UK establishment doesn't regard people as "citizens" or free individuals but as "subjects". In effect this is slavery revisited and the government tries to own people even after they have left the country never to return. So, although the UK has its good side, there are problems if you intend to become rich. See tax havens. The trick is to become rich early enough in life so you can escape from the UK and live long enough to outlive the domicile problem. Good luck!

To sum it up

The UK has both good and bad aspects. It's great if you like that sort of thing, but not so good if you don't. It's a matter of personal taste. You might think it's great and want to move there, or you might be stuck in the UK and think it's terrible and you'd like to escape from the UK! In bygone ages you might not have had much choice, but these days it's different. Freedom of information around the world makes it impossible for the country to keep it a secret that a wider world exists.

Never underestimate the UK because it's a small country. It's actually a superpower but working undercover.